It looks like Microsoft is all set to revamp the Windows Phone platform after releasing the GDR3 update to Windows Phone 8 users, according to a new rumour, which suggests large-screen support, common binaries with Windows RT, and the removal of the Back button to be some of the changes to the OS.
The Windows Phone 8.1, codenamed "Blue", is due to release in 2014, and might feature some major changes, according to a report
by Paul Thurott of Supersite for Windows.
Thurott cites a single source familiar with the matter to report that Microsoft is likely to introduce universal binaries for Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows RT allowing developers to create a single universal app for both platforms, similar to how universal iOS apps work on both iPhone and iPad.
The interesting bit the report mentions is that Windows Phone 8.1 will also bring support for 7-inch to 10-inch screen sizes. While the GDR3 update is expected to be featured on Nokia's Lumia 1520 6-inch screen phone, the only logic for extending the platform to tablet sizes could be the merging of the Windows Phone and Windows RT platforms.
The report also suggests that the updated OS will feature much better multitasking capabilities, though the GDR3 update is also going to bring the ability to close apps running in the background improving multitasking.
It also mentions that Microsoft will apparently remove the Back button and follow the iPhone UI navigation model with a single Home button. It makes sense, but we wonder if the update will make old hardware which features the Back button obsolete, as the new hardware won't feature it. Or perhaps the Back button would just be a vestigial part with no function to perform.
It's likely that some of these changes might or might not make it to the final build, but it appears that Microsoft does acknowledge the issues plaguing the Windows Phone platform, if the report turns out to be correct.
In June, some screenshots from a phone allegedly running an early build of Windows Phone Blue
featured a Notifications Center app that displays all app notifications under one place. The build also included a new way to manage multitasking, complete with the ability to close running apps through the multitasking view that's invoked when the user presses and holds the back key of the phone, and a revamped calendar interface that offers a new Week view within the month calendar.
Earlier, Microsoft had announced July 2014 as the support date for Windows Phone 8
and had clarified that Windows Phone 8 users will be able to upgrade to the next version of Windows Phone when it comes out.